LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

LEAVE NO MAN BEHIND

Hello and welcome to a strange new world. You have traveled far through the desert, only to be met time and again by one empty oasis after another. You are lost and alone, wandering, wondering if someone, anyone, knows how you feel. And just when you think you can't go on, and no one could possibly understand your struggle, a hand reaches out to you, lifts you to your feet, and carries you to the promised land. He feeds you knowledge, shelters you from the self-righteous (and the ridiculous), and provides you with the tools you need to survive in this brave new world. You are a stranger in a strange land, but you are not alone. Let him be your guide. Follow closely as you travel together on this adventure of a lifetime. For now, you are a foreigner to "Fatherhood" but soon YOU will be the master of this realm.

"No Man is Expendable!"

This is Fodder 4 Fathers...

IN EULOGY: THE FATHER I NEVER KNEW... AND HOW THAT PERTAINS TO YOU


I don't usually do "serious." I've had enough "serious" in my day to last a lifetime. But there are times when I think being serious is called for. Funerals for example; that's about as serious as life gets. It's the coming together of friends and family to mourn the loss of a loved one, but it's also the opportunity to celebrate the life of someone you loved and admired.

Now, I'm not the sensitive type- I call it like it is. Most of the time, people lie through their teeth at these things- may be due to guilt; maybe out of respect for the dead- but they say nice things just so they don't have to say the truth about the bastards they are laying to rest. Yet, every once in a while, you get to see the real deal, someone worth remembering, and when you do, you start to wonder how you will be remembered when you are gone. Will people say such warm, loving and inspiring things about you? Are you the kind of person that will be deserving of such praise? Who knows? All I know is I'm doing my best, but I didn't have the best role model to get me there.


Today I watched a wonderful man- a husband, a father, a friend- get buried. I barely knew him, but from what I heard, from his children and his grandchildren, it is my loss for never having truly known the man. I used to feel that way about my own father, a man who is still alive, but a man I have not spoken to in many years. However, upon careful consideration, I know better. My father is not deserving of such a sentiment. In fact, when I discuss him, please know I use the term loosely, because the man who calls himself my dad hasn't been that to me in a very long time.

Do I have the market cornered on shitty dads- probably not? I think it's safe to say there are plenty of inept, inadequate, unquestionably selfish people who have kids for the wrong reasons, or raise them under the misguided notion that children are there to serve the parent. In essence, there are a lot of children being raised by children. And I'm not talking teen moms, I'm talking grown men that think raising children is women's work, and fathers are there to be respected and obeyed just because they assume that title by donating some DNA. But, in my mind respect is earned, and love is not something to be manipulated for your personal gain, or game.

Yes, my father was raised in a different time, but sometimes I think he was also raised on a different planet, or plane. Maybe he took the story of Peter Pan to heart a little too much, and never grew up. May be he was just too spoiled by his own parents, my grandparents, and believed his own hype, that he could do no wrong; an assertion he still holds till this day. But I guess it's better to be right all the time than to be surrounded by your family and friends.

I don't want to belabor the point. My father and I do not speak. He is not welcome in my home. He is not encouraged to attempt to make contact with me, my wife, or my daughter, and not because he is abusive, or dangerous, but because he is toxic. His mind is so wrapped up in what he deserves that he is incapable of unconditional love. He is so wrapped up in how others have done him wrong that he cannot see how he has wronged others. And I do not want that kind of person around my daughter.

As the song goes, "You got to learn to lose to know how to win," (Dream On, Aerosmith, 1973) and that's the only true lesson I think my father has ever taught me. And it is because he was such a lackluster dad that I make it my mission every day to do better by my little girl. Because, one day my father's going to die, and someone's going to ask me to say something kind on his behalf and I'm going to be at a loss for words to say anything other than "without him, I wouldn't exist"- and how sad is that? I will say, "Without him, I wouldn't be the man I am today," but that's not saying anything positive. But I do not mourn men I do not know. And sadly, that is one funeral that I will be unable to attend.

Will I suffer the same fate? Is the son doomed to repeat the failures of the father? Well, that's a personal choice. I choose my own path, and for me fatherhood is a gift I do not take for granted. My daughter's love is something I do not manipulate, or abuse, or hold hostage because- unlike my father- I'm a forward thinker. I actually wonder how my daughter will "view" me on some cold winter day, hopefully, many, many years down the road. And it's a question that I ponder every minute of every day, because if that keeps me from somehow messing up the best thing that has ever happened to me, it's worth all the effort in the world. And that's why we (and by we, I mean me) do what we do.

- Fodder 4 Fathers

4 comments:

  1. Eloquent piece on a delicate subject. My wife has a similar situation and we are not looking forward to the day our son asks about his grandfather. Whether he is alive or not, it's unlikely that we'll see him so is there really a point in getting into the whole discussion? Especially when he is young. It will be hard enough to explain my late mother, let alone someone we don't care about.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Yes, some fathers can be difficult but a relationship with your father, like all relationships is a 2 way thing. Many fathers are forced by society or partners to be the disciplinarian and as such drive a wedge between themselves and their children. As Children we all hated discipline but as adults we know it's required...
    Our society provides almost no guidance on being a father and the only thing we have to fall back on is our own fathers behaviour. This is then 2 generations old and often well removed for what is seen as the acceptable way of the times, but when we are young and struggling to gain a footing in this cut throat world it's all we have. Yes we fall back on this behaviour as Fathers are people too, and are not perfect, nor trained for the role.
    It is a truly sad situation when children exclude their parents from their lives and their children's lives. It is not just punishing the Father but also the Child and grandchild by depriving them of family knowledge, history and the chance to change, learn and grow. Few Fathers ever intend mean or nasty consequences from their actions.
    Regular visits should be encouraged and rules established that both parties agree to follow. You can work to build the relationship back up. You and your father will both be become better people if you can both work at it.
    To give up and hide is not a solution. Stand up and if you are as good as you think you are you will be able to again have a relationship with your Dad!

    -An excluded Father & Grandfather

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  3. Dear Anonymous, although I respect your opinion on this subject matter, and feel for you as there must be nothing worse than being excluded from the lives of your children, grandchildren, I don't subscribe to what you suggest. After a lifetime of being subjected to someone else's bs, and not wanting my child to have to endure the same, I made the very difficult decision to accept the fact that my father would never change. It doesn't mean I don't love the man. It doesn't mean I don't. It doesn't mean I don't accept him for who he is... but how many chances does one person deserve? Again, my father is not a bad person, just a misguided one- one who lives in his own world. A world I choose not to live in. I have enough problems dealing with the spoiled outbursts of a toddler, what makes you think I have time to deal with the spoiled, manipulative games of a man nearing 70. I'm sure your situation is unique, and maybe you deserve another chance, but please don't attempt to equate your situation to mine. I hope you are indeed able to repair your broken relationships so you may again have the opportunity to get to know the child and the grandchildren you so greatly wish reconnect with... but if you don't, you may want to accept that you might be culpable for bringing on this situation in the first place, and as hard as that is to accept, it's just the reality of the situation. Personally, I only give people so many chances to prove themselves to be reliable, but after the third or fourth failed attempt, I tend to cut my losses and move on. Life's too short as they say. I would rather put all my energy into giving my daughter the best father she can possibly have, instead of wasting it trying to facilitate a reunion with a man who is beyond rehabilitation. But again, I appreciate your comment.

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  4. Life is too short to put effort into people that won't put effort into you! I have cut ties with people like this, my own father for example. When you have kids, you have to be careful who you let into your life, being a grandparent doesn't give automatic right, it has to be earnt, if it's been lost especially.
    There is some people I can't cut ties with but me and my little family have minimal to do with them because they are toxic people. Life is better when you surround yourself with good people!

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